Extraordinary days

Class is in session.  This thing we’ve been waiting for and working towards for the past three years is here and it feels so normal and extraordinary at the same time.

As I was driving and praying to orientation I heard the Lord say to “Expect the extraordinary to become ordinary”.  This has become my prayer: that these four amazing women who have stepped out into new territory will begin to experience extraordinary things so often they become ordinary.  That over and over again in their lives will they level up to new experiences and places in the Kingdom.

It feels so right to have them here.  While we absolutely needed the three year building period, it was also hard to not actually be doing the fun stuff.  Up until a few days everything was theoretical.  We’ve been telling people that this will work based on what God has shown us, but now we get to see it play out in real life.  Now we get to see them go out and change the world with the message of Jesus.

Brad came home for lunch today, day two of classes, and said “They’re praying, reading, and writing, what more could we want?”

These students are diving right into the work.  They are diving into spiritual development.  They are forming relationships and community amongst themselves and others in our town.  This is real life and it’s finally here.

Thank you Jesus.

Time for the new.

I’m sorting through every single thing in our kitchen today.  We are preparing to fully gut it tomorrow, a project that is happening about 5 years later than we thought it would.

Life has been a little rocky lately.  We’ve had some strange medical issues, along with some normal but annoying sicknesses.  It feels as though we’ve had every common ailment over the past few weeks, and at times like it may never end.

We are embarking on a new thing, the School of Kingdom Writers is just a few weeks from launching its first full time classes.  Students are actually moving from all over the country to little Zanesville, Ohio to learn how to disrupt the media with Kingdom values.  This tiny seed has grown so large in the past three years.

Our kitchen, once my grandma’s kitchen, has now gotten to the point where the sink constantly drips, several cabinet doors are missing, appliances are partially broken, wallpaper is half hanging off, and the floor breaks off in pieces every time I sweep.

It’s time for the new thing.

We had a drywaller scheduled to come out, but after all the medical issues and ailments, along with some poor planning on our part, we were left feeling very unprepared for this undertaking.  We knew we could push it back if we needed to, so we sat down and asked God about it one evening.

I went into prayer under the assumption that the best choice would be to reschedule.  There’s no way we could accomplish all of this with the chaos around us.  Thankfully God thinks so differently than I do, and I immediately heard that there is “grace for August”.  So we sat our butts down, figured out all the details, and amazingly got everything ordered so that it will be here in time to make this kitchen brand new.  The gold medal goes to Brad who did the majority of the measuring and ordering while fighting off a painful ear infection.

Today I am tasked with taking everything out and deciding where it needs to go for the next few weeks.  Is it useful for now, later, or does it just need to go into the trash?  I’ve been surprised at how little stress I’ve felt.  Sure, there are things I would rather be doing than rearranging our house, but for the most part it has not been hard, difficult, or overwhelming to prepare the kitchen for this project.  I fully believe the rest of it will go off without a hitch, and if you’ve ever done home renovations you know what a rarity that is.  But because we asked, and God told us there is grace on right now, I believe He is going to pour out his goodness onto the work of our (and our drywaller’s) hands.

This morning I was listening to Ecclesiastes in the Message version and loved this is worded:

“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth” Ecclesiastes 3:1

God truly does have a time and a plan for everything.  Sometimes we rush ahead, sometimes we lag behind, but when we ask him and are obedient to HIS plan then grace will follow.  That doesn’t mean we can’t do things at different times, it means that it will flow easiest and most according to His will when we are walking in obedience.

Over three years ago we were divinely given a timeline to follow for launching the School of Kingdom Writers.  We were to begin in September of that year, and three years later classes were to start.  We always held onto that, and made plans accordingly.  I remember that several people thought we could launch quicker if we wanted to and, with a very get it done style husband, I knew we could too.

Several times over the past year I have reflected on the fact that if we had been in charge of the timing of the school, we almost certainly would have launched in 2020.  What a disaster that would have been trying to figure out what to do in the midst of that COVID madness.  God knew everything that was to come, and that the world is ripe for change and more fully aware of how troubled our media and culture really is.

It is time for the new thing.

 

A missionary of LIFE.

The Lord urged me to take an extended social media break in the month leading up to my birthday.  It was a wonderful time off and I’m not dipping a toe back in.  The last month I felt clear headed, able to write just for fun and not likes, and found myself having more free time to ponder with God or really listen to my kids.  In this age we are all learning how to live in this technological world, one that we’re not quite made for and is fairly foreign to our DNA.

One evening last week I lit the lights on the deck and sat with the Lord in the fading sun.  He spoke so much as I sat and scrawled it across my notebook.  They are words I treasure, and ones that I will ponder and read over and over again until the content truly seeps into my bloodstream.

For much of this past year I have had this nagging in the back of my mind that I should be, should be, should be doing something more with my time or with social media or with ministry.  Super vague, and kind of maddening, right?  At the heart of it I thought I was making sure that I wasn’t “wasting” anything God gave me, but truly I think I was just longing for greener pastures, one that is a little more glamorous and exciting than my stay-at-home mom life.

On the patio God showed me that I have been looking for a ministry, but I’m already living a mission.  That my whole life is a mission, and my mission is LIFE.  If it looks like I dabble in a million different little projects it’s because that’s reflective of my LIFE with the Lord.  If my writing shifts and there’s more prophecy last year than now, or more photographs this month than last, it’s because life is fluid and balance is a lie.  At the heart of it, God has called me to live my faith and share my life.  It’s impossible to wrap a whole life up in a neat branded and beautiful package in which you can always be sure what you will get.

There’s parenting, homeschooling, running a school, relationships, photography, writing and so much more.  This space will always be a smattering of those things, and I’m sure will change as the years march ahead.

I’m not confident that I’m a missionary of this ONE wild and beautiful life I get to live with our Savior.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

Bread of Life

The big boys are coming back after 6 days away at camp.  For a homeschooling family that is a lot of time spent apart and I for one am really looking forward to having our family together again.  I’m bet the boys have missed me, but just to be sure they remembered how awesome their mama is, I made them a big feast the night before they left complete with fresh corn on the cob and lemonade.

I knew I wanted to stop for a picnic on the way home from camp because it’s a long drive and the littles will need a break.  We’re halfway through summer and I am weary of deli meat sandwiches already.  I’m glad we’ve had so many opportunities to eat outside, but there’s only so much salami and ham a lady can tolerate. I thought I would really knock it out of the ballpark and made some fried chicken to take along cold.

I love feeding my family.  It truly is one of my greatest joys, not because I feel like I HAVE to, but because it really find great satisfaction out of making good food and watching the kids eat it.  For many years when all the kids were younger they were too picky to try anything and it was frustrating and sad for this mama cook.   As the oldest two have aged their appetite has increased, and this past Thanksgiving it brought tears to my eyes to watch them gobble down everything with great satisfaction.  Finally some children who will eat more than just rolls on a holiday!

I imagine a big part of my kids remembrance of childhood will center around food.  We eat practically every meal together, and while we don’t’ always eat like kings we make it a habit to have a  lot of special events that center around food.  Whether it’s Christmas Eve festivus of junk food and appetizers, the Sunday afternoons assembling and frying eggrolls, or the ordinary weekdays in which there is a steaming loaf of sourdough waiting for lunch, quite a bit of our hours center around food.  We eat our fair share of chicken nuggets, frozen pizza and hot dogs to balance it all out (and because I’m no superwoman), but some of my favorite days are ones like today in which I get to make a gourmet picnic meal that I hope my kids will love (there’s a good chance they won’t, but at least Brad and I will feast!).

An air conditioned life

We finally completed (or nearly completed) the deck on the back of our house.  We put an addition on 4 years ago when my grandma came to live with us, and I’ve been anticipating this deck to be finished ever since.  I love being outdoors.  I love eating outside, checking on the gardens, and spending time with my children in the waning hours of day.

When we lived in the inner city of Columbus, I fondly recall late nights sitting with my love on our old broken porch.  We would sit in the dark dreaming about the future and spin the web for the life we are now living.

I’ve been reflecting on those nights and am surprised at how little time we’ve spent out on the deck after the kids are quieted in their beds.  Perhaps it’s because we’re older, or busier, or more tired, but it hit me that here we have air conditioning and there we did not.  When the heat was oppressive the porch was an escape, but now we have to leave climate controlled comfort to sit where the bug bites and summer heat smothers.

“Battle with unconditioned breath the unconditioned air. Shun electric wire. Communicate slowly. Live a three-dimensional life; stay away from screens.”
                                                                                                     -Wendell Berry

It makes me want to turn the A/C off and throw the windows open more often.  Grab the box fans and sweat through the summer weeks that seem so short once the dull days of winter are upon us.

We’ve never taken our kids tent camping and were recently talking with our boys who are interested in going.  Our oldest was talking about feeling uncomfortable in the heat of the day and the cool of the night if we were in a tent (he was trying to convince us to get a camper) and Brad said, “But that’s the benefit to tent camping.  You get to feel all the things and connect with nature in a way you never could if you weren’t forced to be out in it.”

I’m happy to have the luxury of central air here.  I am absolutely less grumpy during those dog days of summer, but there’s something that we miss when we jump from climate controlled space to climate controlled space.  The earth is here for us to experience, and I for one will be throwing the windows open more often to feel what the wind will bring my way.

Rose colored glasses

A rose hue enveloped the world as the sun set last night.  I grabbed a cup of watermelon kombucha and felt the Lord beckon me out to the newly finished deck.  Admiring the sunset I heard Him say, “I am your rose colored glasses”

Just as the world looked gorgeous with a magenta tint, despite the weeds and toys, so will life in the natural look once we put on our God glasses.  Yes, it’s cheesy.  Yes, it’s true.

I came inside to make a couple of eggs, and as I began heating the cast iron, I looked out and noticed the sky was an even more blazing shade of pink.  I knew I had to capture this so I ran outside with my camera, but every picture I took just looked normal, with no pinkish tint whatsoever.  Photography is great but our eyes are greater.  Occasionally not even the best of cameras can capture God’s great beauty.

The Lord nudged me to say that looking at things from a normal and worldy perspective will not show what He is doing.  We actually have to be looking at things through those rose colored God glasses in order to see the beauty.

No amount of trying to be successful in the world will ever look good compared to what God has for us.  His beauty is never ending and incomprehensible.  That’s the life we’re guaranteed with Him.

The sky last night reminded me of this moment with my oldest two in 2015.

A week in June

There were few obligations this week and the weather was nearly perfect.  The kids spent many hours running in the yard, we swam with friends, and Brad finished a great deal of the deck.

I wish all summer weeks were like this.  Plenty of time and space just to be home and explore life together, but summer is quick and fast and there are a lot of fun things to cram in.  We have a lot coming up, and it will be amazing, but I am treasuring the sweet moments spent in a week with little scheduling.

Measure upon measure

The Lord stressed the important of this message He spoke to me this morning.
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Measure upon measure I pour out upon my people and they do not accept- do not give me praise. I grow weary of blessing those that think they are blessing themselves.

Glad tidings will resound in the tents of the righteous- with those that give me praise and thanks for all of the blessings. When good things happen it is me, says the Lord. Not masks or mandates, but me! When will my people remember me? When will they forget the ways of this world and turn back to me in obedience? Obedience is easy, children. The wrong path is a burden. Holiness is a gift.

 

The Power of Words

Written in March 2020

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The other night I could not sleep and felt panic gripping my body so I turned on some worship music. The clock on the stove read 3:13 and I heard the Lord whisper Romans 3:13.

“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

“Well…that’s heavy,” I thought.

As I pressed in I realized that He was leading me to pray for the blood of Jesus to cover the careless words that we as a nation speak.

I prayed over our world and our country, that God would heal our tongues and that His people would turn back to Him.

The power of the tongue can be measured in life or in death. Just think about the stark difference in the words of Hitler and Mother Theresa.

The book of Proverbs is overflowing with verses that touch on the power of words:
Proverbs 11:9 “Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.”
Proverbs 11:12 “It is foolish to belittle a neighbor; a person with good sense remains silent.”
Proverbs 20:15 “Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.”

There are times as a mom that I find myself speaking always/never statements out of frustration. Things like “You always fight with your brother” or “You never pick up after yourself.” I know from my own experience that these sorts of spoken sentiments can become part of an identity, and not a God given identity. Just because they squabble with their siblings does not make them a fighter, nor does leaving trash on the floor make them a dirty person.

In this hour I feel God is saying that we have become loose with our lips, believing that with “anonymity” our words do not matter. But He has seen the overflow of hearts and it grieves Him. It grieves him to see the untruths spoken carelessly on social media, the snide comments to friends and family, and the twisting of words through the news media to terrify and frighten.

The Lord impressed upon me that the world can change when the message of hope is louder than that of doom. People are hungry for truth in a world filled with lies. “Who can we trust?!” they cry.

When you speak, type, or share something you empower those words. It is not passive.

The most important command God gives us is not to be right, it’s to love. Everything we say or write must be filtered through a lens of love. We have to care more about our audience than we care about being right.

Love conquers and covers all. Love always wins. Everything else will fall away, but love never fails.

So today, in the midst of everything happening in our world, let us choose words that offer hope, love and peace.